PONTE VEDRA BEACH – Rory McIlroy is turning his disappointing Masters finale into a positive as he prepares to tee off in the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday.
The 29-year-old Northern Irishman's latest quest for a coveted green jacket ended in disappointment last month, when he fell out of contention with a two-over-par final round.
Yet McIlroy says he has shrugged off that setback and believes he can use it as motivation for this week's event in Florida, often billed as the unofficial fifth major.
“It was disappointing that I didn't get the (Masters) result I wanted, but I took a lot of positives from the fact that I probably didn't have my best stuff at Augusta and I still was able to play my way into the final group and contend,” McIlroy said. “So, it gives you motivation. You know you've been there. I've already been there once this year, and I all I wanted to do this year was give myself chances.”
McIlroy has a mixed record at Ponte Vedra, missing the cut on his first outing here in 2009 and again in 2010 and 2012.
However he posted top-10 finishes in 2014, 2015 and 2016 before a distant share of 35th last season, when he was battling a rib injury.
McIlroy said he has gradually learned to adapt to the famed Pete Dye-designed layout.
“I've learnt to like the golf course, and I've had to do that a lot with Pete Dye courses,” he said. “The first time you get on some Pete Dye courses they're very strange and they set you up at wrong angles, and visually they're just a little bit not what you want to see, but you learn to deal with it and play the way he wants you to play.”
“I was a little stubborn the first few years I came here and was trying to sort of break away from that, but, yeah, you just have to play this golf course a certain way and be a little bit better than everyone else with your irons and your wedges, and that's usually a good combination around here.”